Edible flowers

There’s an influx of Instagram posts picturing buddha bowls filled to the brim with the most colourful vegetables and fruits; it’s all about creative style and making your meal look the most appetising.

Flowers are now being used to decorate these meals, not edible flowers.. but ‘pretty’ flowers or berries. This is so dangerous as many edible flowers still come with a caution label.

These few examples below illustrate the use of poisonous berries and flowers. None of the posts come with a disclaimer explaining that the flowers/berries are INEDIBLE and are only used to improve the aesthetic. This can be fatal in some cases, or at the very least, cause discomfort.

There is an ample list of edible flowers. Grown very easily these flowers will aid in some people’s path to self-sufficiency; some can be grown in containers on balconies or small patios! These flowers are beautiful and nutritious; they make a wonderful addition to meals.

A few edible flowers available spring/summer:

Borage

Rosemary

Viola ‘Sorbet Delft Blue F1’

Viola ‘Heartsease’

French Marigold ‘Durango Yellow’

Dianthus ‘Electron’ (sweet William)

Roses ‘Darcy Bussell”, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘Comte de Chambourd’

Calendula ‘Calypso Orange’

Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’

Courgette Romanesco

Chives

Websites for exploring edible flowers:

http://theedibleflowershop.co.uk

https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/blog#b

http://maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk

Take care eating any edible flower as it can cause adverse reactions in different people. All these flowers are throughly researched and tried/tested as edible.

[Not own images]

DIVERSITY: #gnarlygardens

Gardens should be ugly beautiful; filled with life and movement.

They should thrive off their imperfections and enhance the lives of birds, bugs, bees and yourself.

When beginning my studies, I thought that gardens had to be pristine, that there shouldn’t be a weed in sight and that this was the ‘ideal’; any less than this is seen as ‘neglect’. Plants should be pruned, trained, trimmed, shaped and (mostly) annual. Growing up in a village where front gardens are regularly spied on by nosey neighbours, I understand the desire to impress and to divert any criticism; to stick to the social norm and stereotype of a ‘well kept’ garden.

However, this feels wrong, so wrong. Since finishing my diploma, I’ve started to educated myself (and preach, madly) about permaculture and wildlife in gardens. How important this is and how understated it has become. I’ve realised that the perfection everybody craves is damaging. A garden should be filled with your favourite mix of perennials, biannual and annuals. It should have exciting structure such as fruit trees or flowering shrubs. There should be bird, bat and badger boxes tucked away in discreet corners. Vegetables and fruit should coexist with plants in the borders. I dislike seeing plastic/harsh materials in the garden for plant support; willow and dogwood can be grown and used to create softer, natural structure.

Attitudes are changing and more areas of gardens are becoming ‘wild’. People are exploring self-sufficiency and using the space they have. Leaving an untamed nest of brambles and long grass is fantastic if you have the space.. think of the blackberries if nothing else!

Use the hashtag #gnarlygardens to share images of impressive uncultivated areas left for wildlife! Find me on Twitter @eogardening.

#2

The second year of Eleanor Owens Gardening is complete. It’s been fantastic working with clients in their gardens (especially when it’s sunny)! It’s exciting helping each garden evolve year by year as all are vastly different. I am enjoying taking on bigger tasks and learning more difficult techniques.

  • Smashed college. Gained a Distinction* diploma in Horticulture.
  • Designed my new logo and bought new uniform.
  • Plan to purchase a van imminently.
  • Continuing studies on garden design, permaculture and edible gardens/self-sustainability.
  • Redesigned my blog. It became more accessible and looks fantastic.

Targets for the third year of EOG:

  • Taking on an employee/sub-contracting.
  • Diversifying my blog.
  • Expanding my Etsy shop.

     

     

 

 

GROW: Bare Root Fruit Trees

“Bare root” is a term used for tree stock that will arrive without soil covering its roots. You can purchase these from November-February (late autumn-early spring) whilst the tree is dormant.

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It’s important to plant it whilst it’s dormant as this will cause least disturbance to the tree and won’t impact its growth/flowering/fruiting.

Once the bare root tree arrives you should plant it as soon as possible! Soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours; they might have dried out slightly during transport.

Dig a square hole that is two times the width of the rootball; scrape the sides of the hole using a fork. This will accommodate fresh compost and allow the roots to spread easily. The hole should be deep enough for the roots to sit on the earth and for the graft union to remain above ground.

Hammer a stake into the hole toward the prevailing wind (just off centre) at a 45 degree angle. Tie the tree to the stake using a rubber tree tie; this will support the tree during strong winds/weather.

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Mound up some earth in the middle of the hole and place the roots over it. This provides extra surface area for the roots to have contact with.

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Ensure the graft union sits above ground level. If it doesn’t then backfill the hole slightly to raise the floor level.

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Backfill the hole with a mixture of compost and existing earth (50:50).

Gently heel/firm down the soil to remove air pockets.

Mulch around the tree (not touching the stem) to prevent it from competing with weeds.

Water the tree if dry. Water again if it’s a dry spring. Water throughout summer. Be careful not to overwater.

Remove the stake after a year. Enjoy the fruit!!

Spring clean

Before the garden starts to grow again, I use this dormant period to tidy the garden. The jobs listed can be done over a weekend. They aren’t time consuming and will improve the look of your garden straight away!

  • Dead leaves that fell over christmas should be swept up off the patio. This will prevent areas from looking messy and will help counteract the war against slugs! Shred the leaves and add them to the compost heap.
  • Leaves should also be raked off the lawn to allow sunlight to keep the lawn looking healthy and green!
  • Remove weeds, dead foliage and leaves from containers. Mulch the pots with compost or manure. Plants grown in containers may need their soil replaced entirely as nutrients can be washed out/used quicker than if planted in the ground.
  • Any herbaceous plants that died off last year should be cut down to the ground now to allow the new growth to appear without constraint in spring. This will make it easier to see the fresh green shoots when they appear and prevent slugs/snails from hiding beneath the old foliage. It will also make borders look smarter and neater.
  • Remove any old fruit from borders/lawn e.g. figs, apples or pears. Most should have rotted down. These can be added to the compost heap.
  • Prune out dead/diseased/damaged branches from certain trees and shrubs. Winter can be harsh and many could have snapped due to adverse weather. It is important to keep plants healthy and happy!
  • When the lawn has dried out, edge around borders using a half-moon spade. This will make the beds look neat. I like this look because it makes the beds easier to weed and manage.
  • Once the earth has warmed up (march/april) you can mulch the garden using manure, compost or rotted bark chippings. This will make the garden look fantastic. The new fresh greenery from the herbaceous plants will shine against the black soil. It will also replenish any nutrients that were washed away throughout winter.

 

Sowing seeds

Everyone should start sowing seeds.

It’s relaxing, encouraging and is accessible for anyone to do.

Begin with seed sowing compost. This is a special mixture containing the correct level of nutrients for the seed to grow well. It is available at any garden centre, the internet and sometimes supermarkets.

Select a large module tray or 9cm pots to plant into. Remember that this has to sit on a windowsill or bench in a greenhouse so choose an appropriate size. Purchase a tray without drainage holes to sit underneath the pots to prevent water from staining the windowsill. These are also available at garden centres and on the internet.

Choose your seeds!

Tomatoes are a great seed to begin with. The plant itself provides a long bountiful crop, that’s great if you are restricted by space. There are so many varieties that produce a range of different shaped, sized, coloured tomatoes! Experiment and find your favourites.

Cosmos are bright flowers, they grow vertically and look fantastic all summer. They can be cut and placed in a vase.

Sweet peas are a classic but you do need more space as they like to grow up a trellis. They also need to be harvested as they flower perpetually, needing a lot of attention. However, they smell fantastic and look lovely in a vase.

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Runner beans also need a lot of space, they grow up a trellis too. They produce a large crop for the duration of summer and are great value for space!

Varieties I like:

Tomato ‘Red Grape Sugar Plum’

Tomato ‘Super Marmande’

Cosmos ‘Sensation Mixed’

Cosmos ‘Cupcakes White’

Sweet pea ‘Sweet Dreams’

Sweet pea ‘Harlequin’

Runner bean ‘Firestorm’

Runner bean ‘Polestar’

There is a large selection available to buy at garden centres and online. The best deals can be found in late autumn. This is when seeds will be cheaper but you may be left with less desired varieties.

Follow the instructions on the individual seed packets to plant them correctly. Each is different.

Pot the seedlings on to bigger pots and then plant them outside in the garden in April. Tomatoes/sweet peas can be planted into pots and grown against a sunny wall, they will need support as they grow. Cosmos can also be planted into pots.

 

 

 

Sow seeds in January

I am so excited to get back into the garden with my new tools I got for christmas and the big ideas I’ve been mulling over since last spring!

Every day I tweet a job to do in preparation for spring; it’s important to not get overwhelmed by the incredible growth that seems to happen all at once. Follow me @eogardening.

An easy job to start the year off well is sowing seeds. There are a few seeds that will need a longer growing period that you should sow now in propagating trays in the greenhouse or on the windowsill indoors.

My top 5 flowers to begin with are:

  1. The classic sweet pea. I like varieties such as ‘Anniversary’ or ‘Hi-scent’ but as ever, it’s your choice!
  2. Cleome ‘Colour Mix’
  3. Antirrhinum ‘Royal Bride’
  4. Lobelia erinus ‘Cascade Mixed’
  5. Laurentia ‘Avant-Garde Blue’

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Don’t forget the vegetable plot starts now too! Tomatoes e.g. Gardener’s Delight, Costoluto Fiorentino and Red Grape Sugar Plum can be sown now. Along with broad beans such as Masterpiece or Stereo.

[not own images].